It’s a scenario most drivers can’t and don’t want to, envision: seeing an 80,000-pound steel machine barreling down on them, crashing into their car. Now imagine that you don’t have 5,000 pounds of the vehicle with a roof and sides to protect you. Motorcycles, weighing in at just 200 – 700 pounds, lack the structural framework that helps shield other motorists.
A truck-involved accident is a life and death matter for any driver; for motorcyclists, though, the odds of walking away from such an event relatively unscathed are significantly lower. How can conscientious riders avoid catastrophic collisions? And when a collision occurs, should you contact a West Palm Beach motorcycle accident lawyer?
A Clear and Present Danger
Information is the first line of defense.
While motorcycle vs. truck accidents make up a smaller percentage of overall statistics than car vs. truck collisions, they typically have far more severe consequences. According to the National Highway Safety Administration:
- Motorcyclists are 5 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. Out of every 100,000 cars on the road, 13.1 are involved in fatal crashes annually; for motorcycles, this jumps to 72.32.
- If you are involved in a car accident, there is a 20 percent chance of injury or death. For motorcycle accidents, this jumps to 80 percent.
- Over 50 percent of motorcyclists’ injuries are to the legs or feet, or head and neck.
- Motorcyclists account for about 14 percent of all traffic-related fatalities.
- When it comes to motorcycle vs. vehicle crash fatalities, 94 percent of those killed are riders.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle-related accident, contact an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney immediately. Because injuries are likely to be significant, it is essential that you protect your rights.
But what can you do to avoid a motorcycle accident (and the stress of dealing with the aftermath)?
- Be aware of blind spots. When it comes to trucks, there is an extensive “zone” surrounding the vehicle in which the driver cannot see you.
- Remember that you will appear further away than you actually are because of your size.
- Your stopping time is almost immediate; keep in mind that trucks need more than 500 feet to perceive, react and brake.
- Be particularly cautious on left-hand turns. As an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer, each attorney at the LaBovick Law Group has handled more of these cases than one would like. The safety of riders is our top concern. Over 42 percent of motorcycle accidents involve a left turn, whether it’s the rider executing the turn or a truck. Often, the rider is driving through the intersection, legally, and the truck making the left turn simply fails to see him/her.
- Do not engage in lane splitting. This maneuver involves weaving between different lanes of traffic. While it can help reduce rear-end collisions in some circumstances, it is illegal in the state of Florida. But in other cases, you may misjudge the speed or intentions of other drivers and cause an accident.
- Wear a DOT-approved helmet. Helmets are mandatory in Florida… But. You can get an exemption if you are over 21 years of age and carry an insurance policy with at least $10,000 in medical coverage. Remember, most injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents involve the head/neck. You can reduce your risk of life-altering or fatal injuries with a helmet. Also add weather-resistant protective suits, gloves, and boots. It can be pricey, but purchasing the right gear can save you from more expensive medical bills.
- Prioritize safety. While there is a pervasive myth that motorcyclists are reckless thrill riders, the vast majority are incredibly safety-conscious and diligent when on the road. Use the skills you’ve learned to drive carefully and defensively.
When You Cannot Avoid an Accident
Staying aware, practicing safe riding skills, and doing your part to avoid collisions are part of every ride you take. But what about factors that you cannot control? For example, one of the more common scenarios in terms of motorcycle accidents involves hitting fixed objects (e.g. road signs, parked vehicles, poles, etc.).
On its face, it may seem like the rider did something wrong and struck these objects. That’s almost never the case. What happens is that another driver forces the motorcyclist to swerve in order to avoid an accident.
Say the driver is texting, tired, or simply not paying attention. To avoid hitting an 80,000-pound truck, a rider may swerve into a pole. The fault lies with the truck driver, not the motorcyclist.
Whatever the cause, if you cannot avoid a motorcycle accident, you can take steps to protect yourself in the aftermath.
At the scene, call 911 and stay there until the police have interviewed you. If you are able, get witnesses’ names and contact information and take pictures of the area/your motorcycle. Always seek medical attention. You may feel “fine” but that could be the adrenaline talking. There could be a significant internal injury. Get checked out on scene; if you are not transported to the hospital via ambulance, go to the ER on your own. Keep all records.
Next step: contact a motorcycle accident lawyer. Before you contact your insurance company to report the accident? You must do this, of course. But if you consult a lawyer first, you can work more proactively to protect yourself.
Insurance companies are profit-generating entities; they want to minimize or deny claims. Often, they will give you a “low ball” settlement offer. If you agree, you waive your right to pursue a further remedy. This can put you in a dangerous position if your injuries worsen or are more severe than originally thought.
Your attorney can interact with the insurance company on your behalf to either maximize your settlement or to take the case to court. The best route depends on your specific circumstances. Regardless, each motorcycle accident lawyer on the LaBovick Law Group team works tirelessly to ensure you do not fall victim to big insurance and trucking companies.
You can take steps to avoid a motorcycle accident; when this is not possible, contact a top attorney. Stay safe out there.